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Race Start/launch - How To Do It?


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Hello,

 

The start pretty much determines whether you lead or chase after the chaos of the first corner is sorted out.I have observed riders starting fourth on the grid charge to first because they had a great start.

 

From the start line until the braking marker for the first corner, it is pretty much a drag race.Therefore, i wanted opinions on this -

 

1. What is the correct way to shift, with or without the clutch on bikes without quickshifters and other hardware that helps shifting? On a Cbr 250 for example, how would you shift after the launch?

 

2.If you shift without the clutch, do you decrease throttle a bit and then shift like always or is it different? I usually shift without the clutch at 4-5k rpm and it goes smooth as silk.At higher Rpm's and near red line, i haven't tried this.What is the correct way? Is it different on two strokes?

 

Both these questions are with respect to smaller bikes of 150-250 cc displacement.Is it different on bigger bikes with more power?

 

Thanks

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Let me first mention that if you come to a CodeRace school, you can get individually coached on this, which is the best way to find what works best for you.

 

What's 'correct' is likely to vary from bike to bike and rider to rider, depending on individual strengths, but I'll tell you what I do:

 

I do blip the throttle to shift. You may find that it takes more of a blip to get the shift at higher RPMs than it did it lower.

 

You also might find that you have to shift sooner than you expect - you run out of first gear quickly on an aggressive start. You don't want to hit the rev limiter, the delay will lose you positions.

 

Usually during practice you can get the chance to do some practice starts and I highly recommend this - race nerves can cause errors, like dropping the clutch too abruptly and getting a surprise wheelie (even on a 250!). Practice starts can help you get comfortable and figure out the shift timing. Also it is a good idea to do some practice starts because on some tracks the first turn feels different from the start line than it did from pit lane or when going around a lap - you may be coming in faster or slower or at a different angle. You'll want to find reference points for braking, turn point, etc.

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Ah.....you see to go to CSBK here it costs as much as a year's college education.It is something only the wealthy can afford to do.

 

Thanks for the info.Is it better to use the clutch or not while shifting at the start? Does using the clutch cost time? Does not using the clutch upset the bike/cause wear on the bike?

 

Thanks.

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Once you get the basics down, take your bike to the local 1/4 mile drag strip. For a modest fee $15 or less, you get timed practice all night. In my area I get 5 or 6 runs down the tarmac on a busy night. Even more when it's not busy. Not only that... it's fun and another reason to put on the race gear. It's hard on your clutch though. lol

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Once you get the basics down, take your bike to the local 1/4 mile drag strip. For a modest fee $15 or less, you get timed practice all night. In my area I get 5 or 6 runs down the tarmac on a busy night. Even more when it's not busy. Not only that... it's fun and another reason to put on the race gear. It's hard on your clutch though. lol

 

 

Yup this is the best way to do it, plus you get to work on your reaction time and being forced to be ready rather then just going when you are ready. The lights simulate a green flag, same principle just different means of telling you when to go.

 

I have yet to do this on a bike but I used to drag race cars, its all about knowing whatever your riding or driving and practicing enough for natural instincts to kick in and perform.

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Dale Walker will tell you to sit with the engine at the desired rpm - around max power for a small bike, less rpm the more grunt you have - and let the clutch out a bit a split second before pinning the throttle the moment the rpm starts to drop. You then control wheelspin and/or the tendency to wheelie with the clutch, not the throttle. Don't use the clutch as a switch; you'll either bog, go up in smoke or flip over backwards.

 

Arguably, PeeWee Gleason had the best clutch control in the business.

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Always peak torque.Shift at peak power.Pinning the throttle will lead to a wheelie.You should smoothly take up the revs while gently letting out the clutch.

 

Letting the rpm drop before you gas it means you will be out of the powerband.

 

I have, sadly no ride nor track to go to.Quiet places it is.

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When I say let the rev drop, I'm not talking thousands of rpm, more like a hundred rpm or two, just when you hear the engine coming under load. Keeping a Vmax 1700 at max torque will overpower the tyre. Keeping a Kawasaki W650 at max torque (2600 rpm) will not give enough power for a fast getaway. If you want to learn how to make the best takeoffs you should join a school and learn it properly. Just as you should join a school if you want to become a good track rider so they can teach you how to do it right.

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I mentioned smaller displacement bikes, as my experience is limited to them.On them, launching at peak torque is the best way to do it, as wheelspin seldom occurs and the power can be modulated with the clutch.

 

On larger displacement bikes, you launch at whatever is the highest rpm that doesn't overpower the tire.It could be as low as 3000-3500 rpm on a busa.The V-Max is one of the most powerful bikes there is, and bikes like that should probably be launched even lower.

 

Either on all bikes, whatever rev range that gives you max power with min traction loss.

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I mentioned smaller displacement bikes, as my experience is limited to them.On them, launching at peak torque is the best way to do it, as wheelspin seldom occurs and the power can be modulated with the clutch.

 

On larger displacement bikes, you launch at whatever is the highest rpm that doesn't overpower the tire.It could be as low as 3000-3500 rpm on a busa.The V-Max is one of the most powerful bikes there is, and bikes like that should probably be launched even lower.

 

Either on all bikes, whatever rev range that gives you max power with min traction loss.

 

My 250 does best at 7-8000 rpm. I did some racing in Ninja 250s, too (which is big fun, by the way) and I seem to recall they were best in around that range, too. You'll have to experiment to see what works for you, but 7,000 RPM ought to be a reasonable place to begin.

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Hotfoot - Correct.The launch rpm dips with the rise in power output.Which is why i wanted people who ride bigger bikes share their experience with starts.Hope the coaches at CSBK will turn up soon and share their insight :D .

 

Fine start and shifting in that video, stayed in the powerband and shifted,gassed it smoothly.

 

I have noticed in videos of drag runs, the bike squirms after a shift.Is it because the power or a bad shift? Watching Rickey Gadson drag, the bikes stay composed.Any one know how he shifts? Or any of the pros really.Clutch or no clutch?

 

Thanks

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Hotfoot - Correct.The launch rpm dips with the rise in power output.Which is why i wanted people who ride bigger bikes share their experience with starts.Hope the coaches at CSBK will turn up soon and share their insight :D .

 

Thanks

 

Oh, sorry, I misunderstood, thought you were looking for info on the 250.

 

I am a coach with the school. :) I own a BMW S1000rr and have raced it and also a ZX6R. I didn't quite catch your question - but based on your original post questions, I'll share experience with those, FWIW:

 

The ZX6R I would launch at around 10,000 rpm. Modulating the clutch was the tricky part. The RPMs didn't dip much UNLESS they were too low to begin with, in which case the RPMs fell and the bike bogged. I did not use the clutch to upshift on that bike either.

 

The BMW is challenging, it has unbelievable power - I do race starts on that one at about 6,000 rpm, way below the max torque rpm, and let the clutch out very slowly and gradually. The RPMs don't dip. It has a quick shifter, so no clutch for the upshift. My husband races a BMW, too, but he has trouble with the wheelie control kicking in and reducing the power. He solved it temporarily by launching at 4,000 rpm, which launches it without a wheelie but isn't competitive in a race so he has just had some suspension work done to try to minimize the problem. We raced 2 weeks ago, and his starts were better, he still gets a small wheelie but not enough to engage the control, and he was able to use a higher RPM.

 

I'm not sure why he has that problem and I don't - could be weight, body position, or clutch/throttle control. I usually ride a different S1000, which is newer and has a different algorithm for the wheelie control, that could be part of it, too - I need to try some starts on his again and see if it responds differently with me aboard.

 

I've never had a problem with wheelspin; we always use race tires and warmers, a wheelie always seems to happen long before wheelspin.

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I have done some drag with these smaller bikes.Wheelies seldom occur if launched properly, as there is no power wheelie.

 

I am sorry, i did not read that you were a coach.I am quite envious.You have in my opinion, the best litre and 600 there is today.The BMW has what....185+ ponies at the wheel? That's enough to take off!

 

My question was this - How exactly so you shift in high power bikes ( which you answered ).Further, i asked if pro's did it the same way you do - clutchless, or is there some advantage to using the clutch.

 

Dipping revs are a problem if you are out of the powerband to begin with, IMHO.As for your husband's wheelie issues, a few inches of wheelie, like 6 in or so isn't a problem.Leaning forward and slipping the clutch just a bit will help settle the bike.Trailing the rear brake is another option.

 

Which year's S1000 do you have? Also wheelspin is more a car problem.Does occur on heavy bikes, like cruisers i think.

 

You Madame, are right on all counts.Salute!!

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I have done some drag with these smaller bikes.Wheelies seldom occur if launched properly, as there is no power wheelie.

 

I am sorry, i did not read that you were a coach.I am quite envious.You have in my opinion, the best litre and 600 there is today.The BMW has what....185+ ponies at the wheel? That's enough to take off!

 

My question was this - How exactly so you shift in high power bikes ( which you answered ).Further, i asked if pro's did it the same way you do - clutchless, or is there some advantage to using the clutch.

 

Dipping revs are a problem if you are out of the powerband to begin with, IMHO.As for your husband's wheelie issues, a few inches of wheelie, like 6 in or so isn't a problem.Leaning forward and slipping the clutch just a bit will help settle the bike.Trailing the rear brake is another option.

 

Which year's S1000 do you have? Also wheelspin is more a car problem.Does occur on heavy bikes, like cruisers i think.

 

You Madame, are right on all counts.Salute!!

 

I'm pretty sure pros will have a quick shifter setup unless its outlawed by the rules. So there would be no using the clutch.

 

If you up shift with the clutch I guess it depends on how much clutch you intend to grab. A while ago I noticed that on the street I barely pulled the clutch at all on up shifts. It probably wasn't disengauging the clutch enough for it to make a difference and shifting felt the same as if I pulled the clutch in all the way. When I shift near redline on my 600 it always seems to be a lot smoother without using the clutch.

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One piece of advice for getting off the line is this: remember to put the bike into gear. We did have a front-line rider go absolutely nowhere at the start on the first race at CodeRACE in October, because the rider had forgotten to put it into 1st gear (he made it up in the second race).

 

Not moving when the start goes can be quite dangerous, but we all managed to avoid the unmoving bike/rider.

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Dave, you engage the clutch when you pull the lever in and disengage when you let the lever out.Did you mean you did not engage the clutch enough to properly shift? That is dangerous.

 

To be fair you can look at this as a glass half empty half full kind of situation where either view is correct but I believe that when the clutch is "Engaged" it is driving the gearbox and when it is "Disengaged" it is not driving the gearbox, which would be the reverse of what you posted.

 

I'm curious what could be dangerous about partial clutch use on a shift when no clutch use is perfectly acceptable technique ?

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The clutch is disengaged when - Swapping cogs or has disengaged power to the wheel.( That's the way i look at it ) It is reverse for us riders :P

 

Not using the clutch is fine.Using the clutch is fine.Not pulling the lever to fully disengage the clutch causes wear on the bike and blunts the teeth and dogs is what i have heard.The clutch is not fully disengaged and there is trouble swapping the cogs, causing wear.

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